The Bloody Tragedy of Masjid al-Haram – An Indonesian Eyewitness

Asmo Ismail

AFTER I read the article of the  tragedy with the title “Coming Mahdi, Mahdi Dead” in the magazine Muttaqin No. 12 Year XI in December 1979, where it was said that 4 of the 7 towers of Masjid al-Haram finally torn down, but unfortunately the article was  not explained when, what’s the  day, or the date when the towers were torn down.

To my knowledge until the 5th day of the tragedy of the Masjid al-Haram or until Saturday, 24 November, the towers were still standing upright. Only almost all parts of the towers there were patches of black scorch marks caused by explosions of Bazooka bullets, or chipped-chipped as a result of a bullet fired from a 12.7 tanks of the Askar.

Keep in mind, although the vandals were able to survive 15 days in the Masjid al-Haram, but practically since the 4th day, or Friday, November 23, 1979, they only survived in the underground part of the Grand Mosque, to surrender, December 4 1979. For since Thursday, November 22, 1979 at noon, the entire upper part of the mosque has been controlled by the royal army, after all the towers where they were highly strategic defense was struck out by tanks with a bazooka and 12.7.

Of course we so surprised, why the towers were remain upright even though showered with the bullets of Bazooka that can blast shook and broke the windows of buildings around the mosque. Because, in addition to construction of the tower was indeed strong and sturdy stone coated by marble, also the bullets of Bazooka  which were fired not metal, but plastics.

Because they had fled and survived in the basement of the mosque, then since Saturday, November 24, 1979, attacks with heavy weapons are no longer directed to the upper part of the mosque, but transferred to the lower part of the mosque.

Further follow my diary, during the first 6 days of the tragedy of Haram below:

Tuesday, 20 November 1979
This morning, I was with my friend, Br. Moch H.Mansyur Shawwal (late) of Dampit Malang, to perform Fajr (Subuh) prayer in the Masjid al-Haram, while the women of our party could not come to the mosque because oversleep. Even some of them there is an upset stomach.

Approximately 2 minutes before the Fajr prayer ended, on my left side a lot of people running toward the Ka’bah. After saying the greetings as a mark to close the prayer,   around the Ka’bah was sounded bitter dispute. Maybe the new people who came in with less warrior guards the Ka’bah. This dispute was ended by the dawn prayers echoed around the Ka’bah, repeatedly. It’s interspersed with the sound of automatic gunfire. By hearing the sound of gunfire was known only people who pray around the Ka’bah on running toward the mosque terraces.

Wird have not had time, in my heart saying: “… Why are you there was a shot in the Haram? … What is it?” I’m down near the Ka’bah. I saw they catched Imam who led Fajr prayers. On  the next day I heard that they killed the Imam on Tuesday it well: “Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi roji’un.” I kept walking towards the Ka’bah, by not considering the deafening sound of gunfire from all corners of the mosque. They’re still flowing toward the Ka’bah – there they obtained weapons. Around the Kaaba they chanted that I did not understand what he meant, as he held the gun. His white, stout, plainclothes (robe) red turban, belts of ammunition, weapons made in Russia: TRD, AKA, dn pistol knife or sword Arab Emirates typical. Some of them stormed into all parts of the mosque. The whole warriors in the mosque were arrested. Against shot.

They asked the pilgrims that still exist around the Kaaba follow them bertakbir. They asked the congregation to pray. They led him. They told the congregation sits. Finally, they asked the congregation listened to the speech ‘leader’ them from above sanctuary Fajr Prayers Imam earlier. Long-winded speech. They alternately. Some use the text, there is not. Of course I did not understand what they gembar rant. Because the shots could still be heard from the surrounding mosques. I want to know how the situation outside the mosque. But, … Astaghfirullah. All the doors of the mosque were closed. A remarkable thing. According to the statement, the mosque was never closed the whole time. To the extent that people are saying, Haram ‘not leaved the door.’ I can not get to the outside. I try to visit out of the window. But the window was too high. I tried to rise to the level one. Here, the situation is more tense. Quiet. Some of them patrolling with guns at the ready. I do not ignore them and continue to climb up to the top level Sa’i. From the window at the top level, I see the situation outside the mosque. Mediocre. Everything is running normally this morning. Those who patrol approached me, and asked me to go down, because it is very dangerous above. Moreover, the visit to the outside through the window. Because the Askar had surrounded the mosque.

I went down and sat down with the crowd while speculating … what happened? 07.00 breaking the flow of electricity, they do not dapatb continued his speech. 07.30 worshipers allowed Tawaf. 08.00 No person who offered a meal to me. “… Tuanmau eat? If you are willing to eat, come with me … “I told my friend:” Well, it seems we have really become prisoners. The proof we will diransum. Let us join him … ”

We follow ‘him’ up in the basement. Furthermore, we are told to follow other people running in this dark tunnel. Walking in this dark place, apparently my friend a little shock. “How do we want mmakan in this dark place?” he muttered. I replied: “Do not worry. What will we eat of the bread Arabic. Although the dark certainly looks as big …” It turns out that what is said ‘eat’ it is ‘a way out’. Us out through the basement. Outside, Askar block mosque. Chained the doors of the mosque from the outside. Helicopter circling above the mosque.

10.30 Gunshots began again. Out of nowhere. Given these gunshots, people Tawaf around the Ka’bah began to decrease. Gunshots increasingly crowded. 11:00 people who performing tawaf in the mosque has not seen again. Quiet. Shops around the mosque on the cap. Traffic around the mosque was stopped. People clustered around the mosque was also in retreat, go to their respective places. Starting at 15:30 there was a shoot-out that is very exciting and continues until 23:30 hours.

Wednesday, 21 November 1979
The shots began to aggressively again around 04.00 resulting in a fire at a storey building in front of Babul Malik. Fire engulfed the building finished. Belim fire until the afternoon can be controlled completely. 08.00 came directly operated tank reinforcements with his 12.7 shots directed to the mosque. 09.00 2 jet fighters came crossed the city several times. But they did not operate.
16:00 attacks of enhanced warriors. Askar tanks firing bullets were directed to the large size of the minarets. Great explosions shook buildings around the mosque. Seven towers, all had one. These towers still standing. Because instead of bullets fired metal, but plastic. This bullet when when not on target, will be turned off when it reaches its culmination point. Attacks on the towers lasted far into the night. Towards morning, dating troops armored tanks.

Thursday, 22 November 1979
Before Fajr, I woke up. Startled by the sound of a huge explosion streak. Attacks against the tower resumed. Massive attack lasted until 1300 hrs where warriors can break into the top of the mosque through Marwah. Furthermore, attacks are no longer focused to the top of the mosque. Because, at the top of this can already be controlled by warriors. The next cleanup is directed to the center or the underground mosque.

Friday. November 23, 1979
This morning came straight red berets troops and dressed in bulletproof. This forces directly to the theater of operations. Then there was heavy fighting in the holy mosque and strategic. Gunshots in the mosque sound like wind. Great rumble. Interspersed with the loud bang like thunder. Maghrib close battle subsided. Closing Isyak, some warriors milling cars with loudspeakers echoing an announcement. I thought ‘surely Askar announces his victory’. Once I asked the people there, it turns out the contents of the announcement is ‘curfew in Mecca.’

Saturday, 24 November 1979
This morning the streets of Mecca were still quiet because of curfew went into effect, Medium battle inside the mosque still continued throughout the night and this morning. 13:45 hours trucks dipaprkir in areas Suqullail pulled slightly away from the mosque. The tanks advanced closer to supporting the fighting in the basement of the mosque. Fierce fighting was closed by two powerful explosions that boomed and broke the windows that surround the mosque. There was a small fire in the mosque, about Babussalam. It happened around 16:00. 18.00 fire can be mastered after brought in no less than six units of fire brigade.

Saturday, 25 November 1979
I left Mecca for Medina with towers still standing on Haram mosque entirely.

Jalan Tembakan II / 49



Religious Bandung II: The champion arrives

bdg lap

Agus Ahmad Safei and Julian Millie


PUBLIC  morality programs, sometimes legally formalised through perda syari’ah (regional shariah regulations), have been implemented in many of West Java’s municipalities and districts in the wake of Indonesia’s autonomy reforms. The Islamic texture of these programs has attracted wide attention, drawing both favourable and unfavourable evaluations. An article in Inside Indonesia‘s 100th edition (April-June, 2010) described one such program, labelled by its founders ‘Religious Bandung’.

Today, life has changed for Dada Rosada, Bandung’s mayor at the time, who was the major patron of the program. In 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years’ prison in connection with a bribe paid to a judge hearing a case involving his subordinates and the misuse of social assistance funds. Almost two years after Dada Rosada’s imprisonment, it seems the attitude of Bandung residents towards overtly Islamic civic programs has changed. Disappointment about Dada Rosada’s misbehaviour is only part of that change. The new mayor has put in place a new public program with a civic vision and accountability that Bandung residents have found appealing. Programs come and go, but the recent changes suggest the time for overtly religious programs has passed in Bandung.


Rosada’s successor as mayor, Ridwan Kamil, better known as Kang Emil, is an architect who holds degrees from the Bandung Institute of Technology as well as UC Berkeley. He has moved away from the Religious Bandung label, having rebranded the city’s action program ‘Bandung Juara’ (Champion Bandung). This tag resonates with West Javanese because the word ‘juara’, frequently used to describe experts in traditional martial arts, suggests a spirit of determination and achievement. For Kang Emil, the term expresses his resolve to succeed where previous mayors have failed. This change has not formally terminated the public religious program, but appears to mark a real commitment to delivering meaningful results in governance. Accountability and transparency are on the public agenda in substantial ways.

Kang Emil is going to extraordinary lengths to show the public that he is working hard on their behalf. He has established two subprograms that allow him to communicate directly with Bandung’s citizens. One is Ngabandungan, a Sundanese term meaning ‘to give attention and consideration to something’. These are public forums where audience members bring their concerns directly to the mayor. The second is Sapa Warga, meaning ‘to greet citizens’. This is a weekly activity where Kang Emil rides a bicycle to sites in the city, joining Bandung residents as they go about their affairs, and learning about their problems in the process. Images and reports of these visits are uploaded to the city’s website.

Public events showcasing governmental commitment to Islam are commonly held in Bandung, such as this regular ‘meet and greet’ between Islamic and political actors (Silaturahmi Ulama Umaro) held at the Mayoral residence - Agus Safei
Public events showcasing governmental commitment to Islam are commonly held in Bandung, such as this regular ‘meet and greet’ between Islamic and political actors (Silaturahmi Ulama Umaro) held at the Mayoral residence . Photo: Agus Safei

The Bandung Juara program has produced tangible results. Many of the city’s public spaces, previously dilapidated and underutilised, have been transformed into attractive recreational spaces. Thousands of people now frequent Bandung’s alun-alun (civic square) in the late afternoon. A park for senior citizens in Cisangkuy has become a popular morning destination where old and young alike participate in fitness activities and relaxation. The program has also provided funds for community-based drain-clearing projects, alleviating flooding substantially in times of heavy rain.

The program does have its opponents: mainly poorer residents relocated from the city’s slums against their will. These people question whose interests are served by redevelopment – those of Bandung residents or companies and wealthy individuals who stand to benefit from such ‘improvements’. But ‘big business’ has also put up serious opposition to Kang Emil’s plans. The advertising industry, for example, is threatened by his efforts to reduce the number of large billboards and other unsightly advertisements crowding Bandung’s streets.

Nevertheless, Kang Emil’s ability to make changes that his predecessors could not has strengthened his public approval. His role in the recent commemoration of the Asian–African congress added to his favourable public image. It was Kang Emil who read aloud the ten principles of the 1955 conference before the international delegations. He then joined the commemorative walk from the Savoy Homan Hotel to the Freedom Building, the path followed at the original conference, alongside President Jokowi, the prime minister of Malaysia and the president of China. Kang Emil is enjoying a positive public image.

Islam in public life

The Bandung Juara program may not be motivated by explicitly religious aims; but Islam is certainly not off the public agenda. Although the mayor’s background is in architecture, he also has claims to Islamic credibility, having designed mosques in Indonesia and abroad. A floating mosque designed by him will soon be completed in Gede Bage, located to the east of Bandung.

Furthermore, Deputy Mayor Oded M Danial, known as Mang Oded, has a strong Islamic profile. He represents the PKS (Prosperous Justice Party), a party with a strongly Islamic political vision, and before taking office he was a preacher and Islamic leader in Tasikmalaya. Mang Oded still frequently delivers Friday sermons in Bandung’s mosques.

bdg msjThere is widespread disillusionment and cynicism about public religious programs among Bandung dwellers. It’s not that Bandung’s citizens would prefer a secular public sphere. Rather, they are wary that religious programs may be exploited to serve political interests. Dada Rosada, for example, did not come from an Islamic background but felt a need to accommodate the city’s Islamic elite who frequently urge the government to elevate Islam in public life. Critics point out that Rosada used the Religious Bandung program as a tool to distribute money reserved for social welfare in order to gain political support.

Even though the Bandung Juara program places less priority on the involvement of Islamic actors, efforts to formalise Islam in public life are continuing. The enforcement of Perda Diniyah, a regional regulation on religion passed during Dada Rosada’s mayorship, is still on the agenda. The law seeks to increase the Islamic competencies of Bandung’s young people, especially in reading the Qur’an. The idea is to free Bandung from ‘Qur’anic illiteracy’.

For members of the Islamic elite who want the municipal government to make Bandung more Islamic, the revelation of Rosada’s corruption has not made much difference. They believe religion-based public morality programs are what the public wants and that Rosada’s mistakes were but the actions of an individual. Indeed, the public are cynical about public morality programs, not because they do not support their goals and potential, but because of the opportunistic political behaviour that motivates their implementation.

If the moment for an overtly religion-based civic program in Bandung has passed, can the same be said for other areas of West Java? Could developments occurring in the pluralistic environment of Bandung be a template for other municipalities and cities in the province? The rise in public accountability for civic management might be an important trend in the post-authoritarian period.  Even in Dada Rosada’s vision for a ‘Religious Bandung’, the basic focus of the program was on civic improvement; all those behind that program agreed that it was to be about civic amenities as well as individual morality. The public in other regions may well take their cue from Bandung and also turn to increased accountability as a necessary ingredient for the improvement of civic life.

Dr Agus Ahmad Safei ( is an author and a lecturer in the Dakwah and Communications Faculty at Sunan Gunung Djati State Islamic University. 

Dr Julian Millie ( is a researcher in the Department of Anthropology at Monash University.

Inside Indonesia 124: Apr-Jun 2016

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The mystery of 1965 tragedy, can it be solved with reconciliation?

Ananda Rasti

RESPONDING to solve the mystery of 1965 tragedy, the government for the first time in history organized an official event to openly discuss the 1965 massacre, involving the survivors, the government, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), academics, and human rights groups.

The symposium, spearheaded by Komnas HAM and the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres), will discuss rehabilitation and compensation for the victims of the tragedy, which took place more than 50 years ago and remains a deeply sensitive topic in Indonesia. The event will occur ahead of a May 2 deadline for settling serious past human rights violations, as declared by Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan last month.

The two-day event, entitled “Dissecting the 1965 tragedy”, comprised discussions among stakeholders and aimed to provide recommendations for the government on the efforts to settle the past atrocities. The organizers invited three sides to the symposium: members or relatives of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), ex-military personnel who were involved in operations against members of the PKI, and those who were accused of being PKI members and communist academics.

The two-day symposium on the 1965 tragedy ended on Monday (18/4/2016), but historians could not reach any conclusions about this dark episode in Indonesian history, although the organizers tried to invite all related parties to participate in the discussion.

Quoting from The Jakarta Post, the kidnapping and murder of six Army generals on Sept. 30, 1965, led to a purge of communists and alleged communist sympathizers by the military under the leadership of Soeharto. In the purge, countless thousands were murdered, tortured and arrested without trial. It is estimated that between five hundred thousan to one million people were killed during the cleansing of people with any leftist connections, regardless of their age or level of connection.

Meanwhile, former Army Special Forces (Kopassus) member Lt. Gen. (Ret) Sintong Pandjaitan was a regiment commander of the Army Para Commando Regiment (RPKAD), which led the anti-PKI campaign in areas across Indonesia. At the symposium, Sintong denied that the number of victims killed after the G30S/PKI incident amounted to hundreds of thousands. “It’s a lie,” the retired military general said as quoted by Tempo. “Such a lie has tainted our honor as RPKAD members,” he went on.

Sintong Pandjaitan

Sintong Pandjaitan

Sintong was referring to the results of an investigation by a fact-finding commission formed by President Soekarno in December 1965 and led by then-Home Minister Maj. Gen. Soemarno. The team concluded that the number of victims was 80,000. President Soekarno was not sure about the investigation results and confided that to a team member, Oei Tjoe Tat. “It is around five to six times higher [than the 80.000 figure],” said Oei, as quoted by Julius Pour in his book Gerakan 30 September.

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Islamic outfit in Indonesia, has called on the government to uncover the truth behind the violence and repression that wracked the nation in 1965-1966. According to NU executive Imam Aziz, the government needs to continue to promote dialogue and shed light on the tragedy.

“The most important thing is to reveal all the facts, and then determine how to continue,” said Imam, adding that revealing the truth would put an end to the “glorification” of the perpetrators, who regarded themselves as victors and heroes.

According to Imam, NU has yet to decide on a firm position in regard to the latest government efforts to settle past human rights abuses and reconcile with the victims, but the ulemas are expected to decide one soon. “I hope NU will take a positive position,” Imam said.

Survivors of the 1965 tragedy have called for reconciliation through the revelation of the truth behind the mass killing of members and sympathizers of PKI and their families. The government of Indonesia stance is a clear. Indonesia’s government doesn’t to apologize to PKI because the botched of PKI efforts to change state ideology, Pancasila to be communism ideology.

Crucially, the mystery of 1965 tragedy has still been blurred because many of vested interest group which come from Indonesia and abroad were politized these issue which could be had “hidden agenda” to raise communist ideology in Indonesia. However, we must alert on the rise of the communist group in Indonesia, because now they are moving under the ground and on all fronts. We must defend our national ideology, Pancasila whatever any risks will be taken.

*) The writer is a historic observer at Galesong Institute and LSISI Jakarta.

Source: Antara

Muslim figure appeals for screening of the film on the betrayal of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)



MUSLIM figure K.H. Cholil Ridwan has put forth a request to screen a film depicting the failed coup attempt by the Communist Party (PKI) in 1965 by national television stations every year on September 30.

KH Kholil Ridwan

         KH Kholil Ridwan

G30S/PKI film must always be broadcast by national television stations in the country in the years to come,” he stated at the commemoration of the G30S/PKI treason at Lubang Buaya in East Jakarta on Thursday.
He affirmed that the government must encourage the screening of the film to remind the younger generation about the cruelties inflicted by the PKI.

Cholil, who is also one of the board members of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, said he had also appealed to include the stories about PKI’s cruelties in the school curriculum, starting from the elementary level.

He noted that the stories had so far been excluded from the books used in elementary and junior high schools.

“We must denounce the emergence of armed farmers, which are the fifth generation of the PKI. The symbol of armed farmers must be rejected,” he stated.

President Joko Widodo led the commemoration of Pancasila Sanctity Day, which falls on October 1, at the Lubang Buaya Pancasila Sanctity complex in East Jakarta on Thursday morning.

The Pancasila Sanctity Day commemoration is held annually to honor the sanctity of the state ideology against the revolt of the PKI on September 30, 1965, marked among other events, by the kidnapping of the seven army generals including General Ahmad Yani, Major General Sutoyo, Lieutenant General M.T. Haryono, Major General D.E. Pandjaitan, and Lieutenant General S. Parman.

The aforementioned high commissioned officers were killed and their bodies dumped into the well-known Lubang Buaya pit on which the Pancasila Sakti Monument now stands.

On the following day, October 1, 1965, the National Armed Forces (TNI) succeeded in crushing the PKI revolt and recovered the bodies of the generals.


Thu, October 2, 2015

‘Invisible’ Indonesia could show path to Islamic democracy in the Middle East

islam_anak ngaji_COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Een_Koranschool_op_Java_TMnr_10002385

Long regarded as peripheral to the mainstream Islamic world, Indonesia could have much to teach the Middle East about Muslim democracy.

By Jean Gelman Taylor

Dr Jean Gelman Taylor

Dr Jean Gelman Taylor

SCHOLARS and journalists often raise the conundrum: why doesn’t Indonesia have greater importance within the world    community of Muslims

Indonesia, with a population of 240 million, is the world’s largest Muslim country. Compare this figure with Saudi Arabia’s 29 million or Egypt’s 81 million. The late Malay studies scholar Amin Sweeney reminded us that Indonesian–Malay is the third language of Islamic scholarship after Arabic and Persian. Indonesia would seem to be qualified to speak for Muslims in world affairs, to be influential in theological debate and the harbinger of political reformation for the Muslim Middle East.

Consider a recent world history by the Afghan–American Tamir Ansary. Ansary structured it from a consciously Islamic perspective. He challenged conventional texts that begin in Mesopotamia, that channel the world’s history through Greece, Rome and Europe, only inserting the Islamic world at points in the grand narrative. Ansary’s world history is organised under the headings: Ancient times; Mesopotamia and Persia; Birth of Islam; the Khalifate; Quest for universal unity; Fragmentation: Age of the sultanates; Catastrophe: Crusaders and Mongols; Rebirth: the Three-empire era; Permeation of East by West; the reform movements; Triumph of the secular modernists; and the Islamic reaction. Yet Ansary’s corrective Destiny disrupted: history of the world through Islamic eyes gives Indonesia just two mentions in 410 pages.

Indonesian Muslims performing Tarawih Prayer during the Ramadhan month in Istiqlal Grand Mosque, 29 Juni 2014. Photo: ANTARA/Rosa Panggabean

Indonesian Muslims performing Tarawih Prayer during the Ramadhan month in Istiqlal Grand Mosque, 29 Juni 2014. Photo: ANTARA/Rosa Panggabean

Is the ‘invisibility’ of Indonesia to be explained in spatial and historiographical terms? Historians have made much of Indonesia’s geographic location on the periphery of the Islamic world, remote from its spiritual heartland before the late 19th century’s ‘connectives’ of steamship, telegraph and post. In the 1960s, sociologists and anthropologists were struck by the folkways of Islam in the archipelago’s villages. Indonesian Islam seemed a ‘thin flaking glaze’, a ‘veneer’, laid over a Hindu–Buddhist bedrock. It was localised, tolerant, not ‘real’ Islam when compared with Arab societies.

Western scholars date the origins of the first indigenous Islamic communities in the Indonesian archipelago to the 12th century. Indonesians were inducted into an Islam that had evolved over the six centuries since the first Muslim community was governed by Muhammad in Medina. Lacking direct transmission from Arabia, Indonesians had embraced an Islam of Sufi sects, veneration of saints’ graves, talismans and miracles.

Idul Fitri prayer at Baiturrahim Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh.

Idul Fitri prayer at Baiturrahim Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh.

An influential book, The religion of Java, by the late anthropologist Clifford Geertz, posited that ‘scriptural Islam’ came late to Indonesia. Recent research by scholars in Indonesia and the West has modified views that Indonesian Islam long developed in isolation from the wellsprings of Islamic theology. Textual studies have led to the conclusion that Malay-language commentaries on the Quran date from at least the 16th century. Biographies of archipelago scholars who spent 20 and more years in Mecca and Medina provide evidence of continuous connection with Islamic scholarship in Arabia since the 17th century and of those scholars insistence on observance of sharia and a Sufism regulated within the Sunni tradition.

This research does, however, suggest that Indonesia’s Muslims were connected with world Islam in a parochial way. Indonesian teachers who made long stays in Arabia attracted primarily students from their own home communities in the archipelago. In Arabia they wrote their commentaries and learned opinions in Malay. Their scholarly output was, therefore, not read beyond the Malay-speaking world, but communicated to audiences at home. Archipelago Muslims, feeding off Indonesian scholarship produced in Arabia in Malay, were a distinct community, irrelevant to the learned elites in the Islamic heartland who wrote and taught in Arabic or Persian.

Direct links with the Islamic heartland became a reality with colonial technology. Dutch steamships took Indonesians to Mecca and Cairo as well as to The Hague and Amsterdam. Steam-powered transport and the telegraph ended the ‘tyranny of distance’. Printing in Arabic letters, finally sanctioned by the Ottoman sultanate, multiplied the pamphlets and books in circulation; lending library stalls brought reading within a wider reach. Students who travelled at the beginning of the 20th century from Indonesia to Cairo became caught up in the latest currents of religio-political thought in the Middle East.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 obliged Indonesians to question their distinctive religious practices and observance. Local movements multiplied to induce greater inner devotion to Islam and greater outer conformity to communal religious observances such as mosque attendance and Islamic presentation of the self in dress and manners. More Indonesians enrolled in Arabic language classes. There were more scholarships for study in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, modifications to domestic mosque architecture, and discarding of customs deemed un-Islamic. There was more drawing of boundaries between Muslims and Christians, and between Muslims and those labelled ‘deviant’ Muslims.

These changes occurred in the later period of President Suharto’s presidency when the government was making concessions to ‘political’ Islam. Suharto, for instance, sanctioned an Islamic think-tank to bring Islamic solutions to Indonesia’s social and economic problems. He allowed an Islamic press and television shows, and the introduction of Islamic banking. The Association of Indonesian Islamic Intellectuals brought Muslims into the centre of public policy making and made Islamic credentials a plus in career paths. There was an equalising in status between civil and religious courts of law. Mosque youth groups and branches of international Muslim associations on Indonesian university campuses mushroomed. There was a growth of public attendance at Islamic festivals and an upsurge in Islamic arts and popular entertainment.


Young Indonesians, who have never lived under colonial rule, have come of age in a world of the internet, university degrees, foreign travel and pilgrimage packages to Mecca. They associate being Muslim with being modern, prosperous, successful; they strive for ‘Islamic chic’ in dress, manners and cultural pursuits. They want greater personal freedoms and more political clout. They emerged from their own political and social tumult following the downfall of President Suharto in May 1998.

There were four years of fighting in Indonesia between religious and ethnic communities and regional movements demanding autonomy or even secession from the republic. In 2002, with three million internal refugees, observers were speculating whether Indonesia itself would continue to exist. But in those same years, Indonesians removed a strong military from public life. Through constitutional changes, tenure of presidential office was restricted to a maximum of two four-year terms, to be achieved through the ballot box.

Javanese Muslim family holding 'selametan', a thanksgiving function. Photo: Collection of Tropen Museum.

Javanese Muslim family holding ‘selametan’, a thanksgiving function. Photo: Collection of Tropen Museum.

The post-Suharto era is characterised by political parties with a broad mix of religious and social agendas. The media has been freed. Elections at national, regional and municipal levels have won broad acceptance of their results. There is a confidence that local cells of international Islamic groups, such as Hizbut Tahrir, are not a real force in Indonesian society. Reformists downplay the power of the Islamic Defenders Front to physically intimidate those they declare to be enemies of ‘true Islam’. Despite rulings by the Department of Religion against Ahmadis and determination that liberalism, secularism and pluralism contradict Islamic teachings, reform activists believe Indonesia offers a working model for Muslim democracy, or rather for a democracy of Muslims.

Indonesia’s Institute for Peace and Democracy has initiated dialogue with counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia on issues such as the state and politics, Islam and the state, the place of armed forces in democracy, and participation of women in public life.

Here Indonesia may assume a leadership role in international Islamic affairs. At the same time, Indonesians seem to be creating a novel variant of being Muslim that confirms their difference on the periphery.

Dr Jean Gelman Taylor is honorary associate professor of History, University of New South Wales. This article is a summary of a talk she gave at Hebrew University of Jerusalem last December.

Muslims performing Aidil Fitri prayer at the Jakarta port of Sunda Kelapa.

Muslims performing Aidil Fitri prayer at the Jakarta port of Sunda Kelapa.

When Gobel removed

Rahmat Gobel

                              Rahmat Gobel

Nasihin Masha


“LET us respect the decision of the President …” and bla bla bla other wise sentences. Sentences that tried to calm all sides and to stop the discussion.

Thursday (13/8/15), I did ignite the discussion about Rachmat Gobel removal as Minister of Commerce. I spread an article of Uni Lubis, a senior journalist, about the performance of Gobel into five Whatsapp groups – funny, the article was actually back to me. I originally got the link of the article from a post by Timbo Siahaan, editor in chief of JakTV in a virtualgroup. In general, all discussion stated a regret about the removal, only one group raised pros and cons.

I am not a journalist who have a special affinity with Gobel – this needs to be told because there is a judge said that I support him because I was his friend. As a minister, Gobel had worked well.

Problem of Indonesian trade system is due to the distribution chain that is too long and is run by mafia. There is a cartel that regulates the price of goods according to their tastes. Therefore, we familiarly know the appellation of rice mafia, meat mafia, cooking oil mafia, sugar mafia, salt mafia, chili mafia, onion mafia, and so on. There is also titles of samurai and dragon. In essence, this trade system distortion is harmful to consumers, farmers, and ranchers. Small traders who are at the end of the chain was part of the victims.

It was very strange, this fertile country become an importer of rice, corn, meat, soy, sugar. In fact, a country with longest coast in the world is also importing large amounts of salt. This is not because the researchers did not find any good varieties. It is also not because the engineers did not find good farming and breeding techniques.

This is simply because there is a cartel that makes ranchers and farmers fainted. Farmers and ranchers become lazy because of a loss or a lack of profit. There is effort to create our dependency on imports. Therefore, this situation ultimately harmed this nation.

Gobel declared war to all mafia. He even called the samurai and dragons which only amounts less than the fingers. Not only that, he also strengthened the role of Bulog and cooperatives. It was to make room for market traders to be profitable and also to assure the supply.

Moreover, he had a program of 5,000 traditional markets. This was more equitable because it involved the lives of many people. The result was quite good. During Eid, prices of basic necessities were stable, no surge. Only meat prices were rising. Meat is the most complicated. Besides this involves living creatures – there are certain growth period that can not be a massive immediately – and also meat has its keeper, a strong country: Australia.

A week before the reshuffle, the blow was given. Meat prices were rising uncontrollably, even the traders was striking. When the reshuffle certainly happened, at the same day the meat was available on the market. So the war is clear.

The state lose, the Red and White in this independence month can be waved. Gobel was removed.

Indonesia is also a heaven for smuggling and importing goods of inferiorquality. This field was also laid by Gobel. The doors of smuggling was closely watched. The doors of import were rearranged in order to prevent the entry of the low-quality goods, including secondhand clothers which harmed the local clothing industry. China was a country that was harmed by this policy.

Indeed, in a mid of this a sluggish global economy, exports were slumped. However, by limiting the imports, Indonesia’s trade balance remained in surplus. One legacy of Gobel was banning the sale of alcohol at the minimarkets.

Of course, Gobel has a number of weakness. He was not attractive when speaking, not only about diction and intonation, but also in the expression and rhythm. He also was too humble to take advantage of the mass media in exposing his performance.

The dwelling time case that was unresolved also became his other weak points. This case had victims. The police arrested Partogi Pangaribuan, the director general of foreign trade of Ministry of Trade, as a suspect of bribery. A number of staff in the directorate were also suspects.

President Jokowi had repeatedly requested that the process of loading and unloading at the port can be accelerated. Dwelling time was complicated, chronic, and involved many ministries and agencies. This case had also been trying to be completed since the previous government.

Some circles criticized that Gobel’s English skill was not proficient enough as a Minister of Trade. He was more fluent in Japanese. Gobel cannot use his social and political capability. The Ministry is a political institution, it cannot rely only on professionalism. Therefore, selecting and sorting team and friends is very important. Picking and choosing friends for playis different than picking and choosing friends for work.

This country needs a lot of fighters. The challenges are too big and the problems are too complicated. Position is not everything, but the it is also a mandate. There are messages and responsibilities in it. Therefore,position is worthed to fight for in this context.

Gobel’s removal was not Gobel’s private business. He became one with the ministry. We should criticize the removal Gobel, not in the context of personal. Because, there are red and white, there is a mandate of theproclamation. Moreover, if it is true that his removal due to combat of mafia credo.

State official’s mandate is doing for people’s welfare and social justice. It is not merely for the balance of trade, nor a matter of economic scale.

Too many ministers are more worthy to be removed, but Gobel had no political power. That is the meaning of this reshuffle.

Republika Online

Sat, 15 Aug 2015


RI never meant to be an Islamic nation: NU


THE chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization, Said Aqil Siradj, has said that Indonesia was founded on values of peace and tolerance, and not exclusively on Islamic teachings.

During his speech at the National Resilience Institute’s (Lemhanas) golden anniversary on Wednesday, Said emphasized the role of religious figures in maintaining harmony in the country and how democracy and nationalistic values had kept the country together.

Said gave a speech titled “Peranan Ulama dalam Membentuk dan Membela NKRI” (The Role of Ulema in Shaping and Defending the Republic of Indonesia) in which he recalled the role of ulema or Muslim scholars during the struggle for the country’s Independence.

“Sukarno [Indonesia’s first president] invited members of NU to fight against invaders [colonizers]. [Nationalism] was part of their faith,” he said.

Said added that the NU’s ulema was at the forefront of defending the country’s ideology of Pancasila, which is based on democracy.

“Since [before Independence], members of NU declared that we were going to establish a darussalam [a peaceful country] instead of darul Islam [Islamic country],” he said, adding that the organization embraced the principle until now.

He also spoke of the danger of organizations that wanted to establish an Islamic state, which he said NU had long been fighting against.

“An organization that has the intention of establishing a religion-based state is a threat to Indonesia’s unity,” Said added.

Since the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) movement in Iraq and Syria, Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Muslim population, has seen growing influence of the movement.

Hundreds of Indonesians have flocked to the war-torn countries to join the movement, including wives and children of extremists that had earlier joined the fight or relatives of members of local terrorist groups.

The government has started to engage in action to curb growing sympathy toward extremists in the country with the help of mainstream Muslim organizations, including NU and Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Muslim organization in the country.

The government has also claimed to be closely monitoring the Internet to stop the local campaigns of the group.

The institute’s anniversary coincides with National Awakening Day, which marks the emergence of Indonesian nationalism.

The institute, which is now under civilian management after restructuring in 2001, has been training Indonesian leaders since its establishment in 1965. The institute also has become a center for strategic studies, including food and political security, according to the institute.

The governor of the institute, Budi Susilo Soepandji, said the institute would continue to provide Indonesian leaders with training on leadership and nationalism, and continue to become a center for strategic studies.

“Lemhanas will continue the spirit of Sukarno when he established the institute. From the date of its establishment [May 20, which coincides with National Awakening day], we can actually tell what Lemhanas was established for,” he said.

The Jakarta Post
Thursday, 21 May 2015